Guide to Supporting the Mental Health of Employees
The numbers are in. We know that employees everywhere are struggling with their mental health. Based on our survey of 11,000 employees, a staggering 45% felt anxious at work. So, how can you support the mental health of your employees? WorkScore have put together three ways to do just that.
The challenge of a highly stressful workplace
There’s a worrying trend when it comes to the mental wellbeing of workers in Australia. According to our research, a quarter of employee’s rate feeling depressed whilst a staggering 45% rated that they had frequently felt anxious.
What’s even more worrying is that work seems to be adding to the distress of employees. A third of employees rate their work-life balance as poor and 78% frequently experience stress. Additionally, close to 50% of employees find it hard to switch off from work.
An astounding one in five Australians will experience a mental-health problem this year, however you may never know as many are suffering in silence – especially in the workplace.
Investing in workers’ mental health is good for business since mental health issues costs the Australian economy of nearly $30 billion per annum. Yet, for some reason, we still can’t seem to talk about mental ill health at work.
It’s time to stop ignoring the problem.
How to support the mental health of your workers
At WorkScore, we know the most engaged workforces are those who have mentally healthy employees. So, we’re helping you to support the mental health of your workers with these three steps:
1. Create a positive work culture
We live in a modern paradox. In all our effort to be on top of work, we seem to be impairing our ability to perform effectively. That’s where a work culture that promotes a balanced view of completing tasks and switching off becomes vital.
To reduce work-induced stress, promote the following:
Managing time effectively: Protect the downtime of your employees by helping them understand the boundaries you expect. Emphasise that there is no expectation for them to work all hours. Help them to prioritise urgent tasks and leave off anything that can wait until the following day.
Communicating openly: A sense of belonging and self-worth, much like stress, is a primal feeling. Poor communication causes confusion, uncertainty and even conflict. It prevents workers from feeling a sense of community which leads to stress.
Cultivating a sense of purpose: Provide spaces that allow your employees to discover meaning in their work. Give them access to tools such as digital assessments or personal exploration exercises that will encourage reflection. Consider offering mentoring programs, as this may help your employees find deeper meaning and satisfaction in their work.
2. Develop a supportive work environment
Imagine if we could discuss our mental health issues as openly and confidently as we discuss coming down with a bout of flu? Workplace support and openness is crucial to the ongoing dismantling of the stigma surrounding mental health.You can create a supportive workplace by:
Observing and responding to unusual behaviour: Be alert to signs that a worker or colleague might be going through a tough time. If you observe something, initiate a conversation. But remember that your job is not to counsel them, just listen and offer support.
Launching helpful resources: Train managers on how to handle what could be a tricky conversation. Also, make sure that your employees know where to go if they need professional support for themselves or a colleague. Assess whether you provide sufficient information, programs and services for any staff who might be suffering from a mental health condition. Address any resource gaps you identify.
3. Establish a wellbeing program
With one in five Australians suffering from a mental health condition like anxiety or depression in any twelve-month period, it is imperative that employers focus on developing mentally healthy workplaces. The best way to achieve this is to set up a wellbeing program.
A tailored wellbeing program will help your workers in:
Setting good eating habits: Research points to a clear connection between our gut and mental health. The lack or abundance of essential nutrients can increase or reduce anxiety-related behaviour. Boost your efforts to get your workers eating healthier by starting a wellbeing program that offers information, strategies and ways to measure and improve their diets.
Getting active: It’s not a secret that increasing physical activity reduces mental health issues including stress, anxiety and depression. By introducing a wellbeing program that offers your employees with handy tips on how to stay active during and after the work day, you’ll help them avoid the most common work-related mental health problems.
Using mindfulness techniques: A good wellbeing program must not only look after the physical wellbeing of your employees. The best program should offer a holistic approach. Make sure your wellbeing program includes activities, suggestions and ideas on being mindful and maintaining a healthy mindset while at work.